One general property and strategy of natural systems, including humans, is to organize different components by means of compartmentalization. This compartmentalization efficiently facilitates and orchestrates biological events in space and time. Cells are primary examples of well-defined biological compartments within tissues. However, cells also exhibit a number of compartmentalization strategies, including membrane-delimited intracellular organelles and multi-enzyme complexes. The compartmentalization of specific cellular functions, through spatial localization, increases regulation efficiency. At the nanometre scale, cells also organize their molecular components in a highly regulated way. Yet, visualization of these processes have been hidden until recently, due to the lack of non-invasive techniques that provide sufficient spatiotemporal resolution. A major breakthrough in optical microscopy occurred about 10 years ago when researchers invented different ways to overcome the barrier of diffraction of the light. The advent of these so-called super-resolution techniques and single molecule dynamic approaches are indeed providing new eyes to visualize the nano-world of living cells. From these studies, it is becoming clear that compartmentalization in space and time is a general feature of living cells and it operates from the cell membrane down to chromatin in the nucleus. In this talk, I will first describe the working principles of these advanced optical techniques and will then focus on recent studies in my group linking spatial and temporal organization at the nano- and meso-scales to different biological functions.
This series of colloquia sees the light driven by the shared interest of several Institutes of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) that want to bring to society the latest scientific advances and the vision of the world arising from them.
The ultimate goal is transmitting the message that science is a public good that must be made approachable to all citizens. An effective way to send this message is through the dissemination of knowledge that combines rigor with accessibility. With this spirit, this series wants to gather internationally renowned personalities from a variety of research fields and from the world of culture, so that they share their experience with the general audience.